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Chicago Sky announce they have hired Hall of Famer Teresa Weatherspoon as their coach

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Sky announced they have hired Naismith Hall of Famer Teresa Weatherspoon as the team’s coach on Thursday, two days after her agent confirmed she agreed to take the job.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Chicago Sky Family,” Weatherspoon said in a statement. “To be the leader, as Head Coach, of an organization in a city with so much history and culture is a dream come true. The things that we are about to do as a team, a business and in the community will be rooted in excitement, excellence and hard work. I am thankful to the entire Chicago organization for going through this process and selecting me. I can’t wait to get to work!”

The Sky, who won the 2021 WNBA championship, were searching for a new coach since James Wade left in the middle of the season to take an assistant job with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Chicago announced at the end of the season, after it was eliminated from the playoffs by the Las Vegas Aces, that interim coach Emre Vatanseyer wouldn’t return.

The Sky will hire a general manager separately. Wade and then Vatanseyer worked as both coach and GM. But the team announced after the season it would separate the positions like every other team in the WNBA now has done.

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“Her standard of excellence and history of winning at all levels, coaching expertise, knowledge of the game, passion, energy, and skill in player development make Teresa the perfect choice to build on our championship culture and usher in an exciting new era,” Sky co-owner and operating chairman Nadia Rawlinson said.

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Weatherspoon returns to the WNBA after working with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans since 2019. She first was a player development coach and then an assistant starting in 2020. The team released her this past June.

Weatherspoon had a stellar playing career with the New York Liberty, earning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year honors in each the league’s first two years. She led the Liberty to the Finals four times, the last time in 2002. New York is back there now for the first time since then and trails Las Vegas 1-0.

Weatherspoon was a head coach in college, leading her alma mater Louisiana Tech from 2009 to 2014.

Half of the WNBA’s coaches are now former players, including both finals coaches, Las Vegas’ Becky Hammon and New York’s Sandy Brondello. The Phoenix Mercury still have a coaching vacancy.